PhD, The University of Texas at Austin
Infant and Child Speech Perception, Cochlear Implants, Quality of Life of Children with Hearing Loss
Dr. Andrea Warner-Czyz is an Assistant Professor in communication disorders in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas. Dr. Warner-Czyz received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her master's degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She earned her doctorate in communication sciences and disorders from The University of Texas at Austin in 2005.
She has worked as a clinical audiologist in physicians' offices and in private practice, and managed a newborn hearing screening program in Illinois. In addition, she has served as a research scientist, instructor and assistant professor in departments of communication disorders. Her specialty areas include infant and child speech perception, cochlear implants and quality of life of children with hearing loss.
The overarching goal of Dr. Warner-Czyz's research is to understand how speech perception emerges in infants and children with hearing loss, particularly those who receive cochlear implants. Her current research projects focus on the effect of reduced spectral resolution, such as that received through a cochlear implant, on infants' ability to discriminate two sounds - a very early speech perception skill that depends on the ability to recognize patterns in the speech. One primary approach she uses to examine this area is present a cochlear implant-simulated signal to infants with normal hearing to see how well they discriminate degraded speech. Although cochlear implant devices restore the sensation of hearing to individuals with significant levels of hearing loss, the signal is degraded relative to spectral resolution. Reduced resolution of spectral cues creates difficulty perceiving cues in speech sounds such as syllables, words and sentences. This task may be more difficult for infants and children who have less experience with language input relative to adults, and therefore less ability to develop top-down processing skills to "fill in the gaps" when a signal is distorted. Recent research projects center on the effects of infant age, stimuli type and level of spectral resolution (i.e. number of spectral channels) on infants' ability to discriminate speech sounds. Results support a multi-factorial approach to emergence of early perceptual skills and have implications for clinical monitoring and setting realistic expectations for the development of speech perception by infants with hearing loss who receive cochlear implants. This research has been supported by grants from the North and Central Texas Clinical Science and Translational Initiative and the American Academy of Audiology Foundation.
A secondary research interest involves exploration of how cochlear implantation impacts quality of life in children and adolescents with cochlear implants. This quality of life research is conducted with partners in the Dallas Cochlear Implant Program, a joint enterprise between The University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center. Collaborations with Betty Loy, Emily Tobey and Peter Roland examine benefits of cochlear implantation that extend beyond improvements in speech perception, speech production and language development to encompass daily issues related to physical, psychological and social well-being. We employ both traditional methods (parental report of the child's quality of life) and less common methods (child self-report and sibling report) to afford multiple, complementary perspectives of how cochlear implantation affects quality of life in children. We have shown that even very young children (4-year-olds) can answer questions about their quality of life using an interview format and quality of life ratings by children and parents differ according to psychological domain. Our quality of life in pediatric cochlear implant users is supported by grants from both the Med El Corporation and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
Kumar, R.R., Warner-Czyz, A.D., Silver, C., Loy, B.A., and Tobey, E. A. 2015. "American Parent Perspectives on Quality of Life in Pediatric Cochlear Implant Recipients." Ear and Hearing, 36(2), 269-278.
Warner-Czyz, A.D., Loy, B., Evans, C.S., Wetsel, A., and Tobey, E. A. 2015. "Self-esteem in children and adolescents with hearing loss." Trends in Hearing, 19, 1-12.
Warner-Czyz, A.D., Houston, D.M., and Hynan, L.S. 2014. "Vowel discrimination by hearing infants as a function of number of spectral channels." Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 135 (5): 3017-3024.